Once upon a time, the meaning of the term “constitutional” was understood as “what powers the federal government is given.” But thanks largely to the legacy of the president whose birthday it is today, that term now means “what subjects of the United States are permitted to do.”
Think I’m wrong? Check out this story on yet another DC power grab:
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that North Carolina’s attempt to offer a “Choose Life” license plate and not provide an abortion-rights alternative was unconstitutional.
The ruling is the third time one of the Republican-led General Assembly’s abortion laws has been struck down over the past three years.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in a 3-0 opinion written by Judge James Wynn of North Carolina.
“Chief amongst the evils the First Amendment prohibits are government ‘restrictions distinguishing among different speakers, allowing speech by some but not others,’” Wynn wrote.
Now there are certain extremists (me, for example) who think the First Amendment, like all the Bill of Rights, defined clear limitations to federal power. Those dangerous extremists would argue the sovereign State of North Carolina not only has the final say on what it puts on the license tags it issues, but would go on to say that North Carolina can adopt any slogan it wants, no matter who in DC disapproves. These days, however, all reasonable and moderate people know the Constitution makes DC sovereign. So it’s only natural that DC tells the people of the States what they can and cannot do.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, a private Catholic school is being sued by a cafeteria worker claiming he should be allowed to work at that school despite his homosexuality. He’s in a “same-sex marriage,” and the school, which upholds traditional Catholic values, does not want to be seen as endorsing that man’s lifestyle.
But as NPR reporter Tovia Smith observes in her story, “Ultimately the question of how much leeway religious organizations have in hiring will be answered by the Supreme Court.”
Get that? We must look to the federal government to learn “how much leeway” will be permitted.
Notice that the political doctrine being enforced here is that DC views “rights” as belonging to the individual, not to the States or religious institutions.
So when libertarians claim their ideology is the best weapon in resisting an authoritarian federal government, ask how that is possible when they hold the same central belief that justifies that government’s endless expansion into our lives.